Bad blood between Alston, Lavarro on full display at Jersey City Council meeting


Last month, Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro went after political gadfly Bruce Alston during public remarks, more than enough for Alston to want to return the favor.

At the last Jersey City Council meeting of 2018 on December 19th council members debated the merits of voting for on a Special Improvement District for the city’s West Side, as well as the efficacy of a payroll tax intended to fund the Jersey City Public Schools (both passed).

Lavarro opened his remarks by going after Alston head on, after he had spoken in favor of the SID and criticized the council president for opposing it.

“That person is also a former and failed politician that spoke, and he’s also a convicted felon for real estate fraud. So, he’s not exactly the most … Bruce Alston, I’ll say it out loud,” Lavarro said, prompting council members Joyce Watterman, Michael Yun and Daniel Rivera to leave the dais.

A large portion of yesterday’s council meeting pertained to the council ultimately rescinding a 15-year tax break for a project Downtown, but by the time the public was allowed to speak, Alston launched into Lavarro at the podium.

“I wasn’t even going to come tonight, but then I felt as though that I had to come just to look at you and feel sorry for you that you felt that you could marginalize me by stating that I am a convicted felon,” said Alston.

“Everyone is watching now, because is owned by me.”

We followed up with Alston after the meeting to ask why he wasn’t willing to let bygones be bygones.

“At the last council meeting I spoke out against the West Side SID, and he made derogatory comments about me four hours after I left, saying that my words or opinion shouldn’t matter because in his mind they are the words of a convicted felon,” Alston said.

While Alston stressed that he didn’t take Lavarro’s comments personally, he nonetheless made the time to be in the council chambers and speak for the full five minutes each public speaker is given.

“Here I am trying to rehabilitate my life, and because I disagreed with him, he took offense, and I couldn’t see why he [went after me personally].”

In an interview, Lavarro didn’t react angrily to Alston’s comments, saying simply he’s moving onward.

“I’m just going to stay focused and not look backwards at some of the personal attacks lobbied at me. I’m not going to dwell on the past,” said Lavarro.

Furthermore, Alston wasn’t the only one to direct their anger towards the council on Wednesday night.

Attorney Charles Harrington was flabbergasted while trying to explain that his client, the real estate developer Shuster, did not violate local hiring requirements for its $30 million project on Ninth Street.

Nevertheless, the council insisted that the six-floor project didn’t comply with local hiring requirements, even though Harrington said that the developer posted a listing on Craig’s List seeking laborers for the project’s final stages.

Ultimately, the council voted unanimously (9-0) to rescind the developer’s tax break, to Harrington’s chagrin.

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